“Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder …

But gratitude is straight from the heart of God.”

— Julie Lessman


If you’re like me, your house is a shambles with unwrapped presents stacked against the wall, rolls of wrapping paper propped up in the corner and cookie crumbs all over the unswept floor (and no, I didn’t bake them myself!). But … there are also twinkle lights over my hearth, hints of snowflakes dancing outside my window, and a brand-new Keurig coffee maker plugged in that Keith just “had to have,” brewing us everything from hazelnut to English toffee to pumpkin spice.

Ah, Christmas … there really isn’t anything else quite like it. And you know what? Despite a dirty house and a January 15 deadline on book 2 in The Heart of San Francisco series, I am actually enjoying this holiest (and busiest) of seasons. Why? Because for the first time in 62 years, I am ashamed to say, I am truly focusing on the Reason for the season rather than the season itself. Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it’s all around me in the precious smiles of my granddaughter, in the beautiful gleam of the ring on my daughter’s finger and in her eyes, and in the little-boy excitement I see in my husband’s face every time he presses that silly button on the new-fangled Keurig.

But it’s my gratitude to the God who gifted me with all these people and things that truly has taken precedence for me this year and the result is a quiet joy and peace unlike anything the world has to offer. As author Ann Voskamp says in her amazing bestselling novel One Thousand Gifts: “God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy.”

A heart of gratitude—one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received from the hand of God, and the gift that makes Christmas all it should be … and all the Savior meant it to be.

Did you know we can pray for a heart of gratitude and God answers that prayer? You bet, and the following story I wrote for the 12 Pearls of Wisdom blog series going on right now is absolute proof. Pearl Girls is a charitable organization to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe, so I hope when you finish reading my story below, you will click on the link provided to enter the Pearl Girl’s wonderful giveaway of a pearl necklace, books, a gift pack, and music CDs and find out a little bit more about this wonderful group of women. 

Then I invite you to leave a comment on my story at the Pearl Girls blog, and I will enter you in a special drawing for a signed printed copy of A Light in the Window.  Happy reading and GOOD LUCK!!

When God Wraps a Present …

We’ve all heard the adage “it’s better to give than receive,” but never have I agreed more than the year I was engaged to the love of my life.

It was truly a Christmas to remember—spiced egg nog and snickerdoodles and shimmering presents unwrapped in a circle of love. Of course, we all ooohed and ahhhed over each gift opened, one at a time, reveling in the glow of excitement for giver and recipient alike.

And then it was my turn. Everyone waited while I tore into a small box, anticipation fairly shimmering in my fiancé’s eyes.

“Do you like it?” he asked, grinning like a little boy when I unearthed a very pretty silver watch.

No. “It’s beautiful,” I said with a shaky giggle, slipping it on and holding it up for everyone to admire. I quickly gave him a sweet kiss on the lips. “Thank you so much, babe—what a perfect gift!”

Perfectly awful, that is. You see, when you are a twenty-eight-year-old Type A career woman who is very set in her ways, there are just some things you have to buy for herself—books, costume jewelry, purses … a watch.

All right, yes, I’ll admit it—“high maintenance” is my middle name because heaven knows I’m one of the most particular people on the planet, especially when it comes to watches. They have to be digital, waterproof, have a day and date window, an alarm, chronograph, second hand, both silver and gold metal to wear with either silver or gold jewelry, stretch band skinny enough to fit my wrist . . . and a GPS. Okay, I’m pulling your watch chain on the last one, but you get the picture—NOT easy to find, especially with numbers big enough for someone blind as a bat.

So, yes, I faked it, of course, thanking my soon-to-be husband for the “prettiest watch I had ever owned,” because it was—I just didn’t like it. But did I “fake it” with God? Uh, no. I went straight to His throne in prayer and begged Him to help me love this watch because the man I loved gave it to me and I just flat-out didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I even went so far as to write the prayer request on a piece of paper and put it in my Bible so I could “wrap” it in prayer every single day, which I did.

Until the fateful moment years later when my husband used my Bible one day and found the note.

“You don’t like your watch??” he says, confronting me with hurt in his tone while his eyes flicked to the pretty watch on my wrist.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, somewhat confused.

He held up the note. “You told God you hated it in this note I found in your Bible.”

Uh-oh . . . BUSTED!

“Oh, babe,” I said with my brightest smile and a quick kiss on the lips. “That was then and this is now. It’s perfect for me, just like you, and I absolutely love it.

And you know what? I did!!

You can Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog where the winner will be announced on January 2, 2013. If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what they are all about. They exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Please consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help the support Pearl Girls.


1.) Simply leave a comment on my Pearl Girl’s blog HERE.

2.) Then let me know via Facebook or the Contact Julie tab of my website.

3.) Extra entries for reading and commenting on all twelve author blogs, 1 additional entry per each author blog commented on.



FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21:Win your choice of any of my books including A Love Surrendered (paperbook or audio) and my Christmas e-book A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story at a giveaway Mary Vee’s blog at:



Merry Christmas, and I wish each of you a happy,

healthy and holy holiday season!